Rs 3.4 lakh for a used VW Polo: 5,000 km ownership experience

We sold our 2013 Mahindra XUV500 and were looking for a small family hatchback.

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A few months ago, I made a post asking for help regarding which car I should buy after I sold my XUV500 due to its high maintenance. I preferred a German car but everyone in the thread tried their best to convince me out of it.

They failed and here I am writing a review of my Volkswagen Polo. It's a 2013 Highline which runs on a sweet-scented propellant that is petrol. The night blue color [that's what Volkswagen likes to call it] looks royal and is a pretty rare color in Polos. I prefer it over the famous red and white Polo colors. It has been more than 6 months and 5000 kms after buying it and here are my thoughts on it.

Why Polo

We sold the XUV mainly due to the maintenance issue. We sold it right before the monsoon since we noticed that the rubber seal around the windshield showed signs of damage. To avoid any further costs, we sold it in an instant after noticing that issue. There was no rush for a new car since our scooter was more than sufficient for our travel needs on a daily basis. Once monsoon arrived, we realized the importance of a car and started evaluating our options. All we needed was a small family car for intercity trips.

In 2013, we bought a Wagon R vxi. The family opted for a maroon Vxi, while I had always loved the thought of a Polo. But at that time, my choice was outvoted by the Wagon R. Quite understandable at that time as well, since the Polo was more expensive and less practical than a WagonR. Practicality was the main objective back then.

However, this time I managed to convince my family into buying a German despite all of its flaws.

Now, after multiple test drives at Spinny and visits to every nearby car dealership, we evaluated all options possible under 5 Lakhs. Since the budget wasn't very high, we decide to opt for a second-hand car and we were not at all interested in settling for a car like S-presso or Kwid.

The options were:

2011 Polo 1.6

We tested the car and loved it. Only to realize that the engine was smoking once we opened the engine bay. It would have cost us around 3.5 Lakhs, but decided to notice the red flag.

2013 Polo Highline 1.2

The main reason for choosing this one was its color. We had tested other highlines but this color just felt so special. Not the most practical choice but the best choice possible.

2012 Vento 1.6

A white 2012 Vento was one of the 3 finalists. It was quite perfect and would have cost the same as the Polo. But the Polo was too gorgeous to resist.

2014/16 Polo GT

Both the cars were absolute peaches. Perfectly maintained and beautiful to drive. We had negotiated with the dealer to reduce the asking price from 5.75L to 5.3L. But it was still over our budget, so we decided to buy a cheaper and older one and spend the extra money on mods and service. We found a 2014 White GT on Spinny for 4.7L. We had booked it and were seriously considering buying it. Only to find out about its DSG issues. We tried to ignore those flaws and thought about still going for it. But the cost of repair was too much to ignore.

What I love about the Polo

  • Beautiful and elegant
  • No-nonsense interior
  • Driving feel
  • Precise handling
  • The gear shifts
  • The gorgeous blue color

Things I am not so fond of

  • Awful Mileage.
  • Impracticality for rear seats.
  • Cheap-looking front bumper.
  • No parking cameras.
  • Expense of servicing at authorized centers.
  • Poor performance.


Polos are effortlessly elegant, regardless of the color. However, when the Polo owners decide to modify it, most of the time they end up making it look aggressive rather than elegant. However, this car oozes an understated charm that very few vehicles in the segment can match. That being said, there is one bit of the exterior that I'm not so fond of.

For example, the pre-2015 polos came with very cheap and ugly-looking front bumpers. The lower grill, to be precise, does not match the Polo's otherwise charismatic look. Luckily, the designers shared that opinion with me and replaced that lower grill for future models in the next facelift. The cuts and creases are designed to perfection, a tad more aggressive approach and you would call the car vulgar.

The alloy design matches the Polo’s character. The Polo has aged like wine, if you ignore the lower grill. It doesn’t look out of place even today and I don't think it will in the near future either. If you look at the current generation of cars, you will notice the cars try too hard to stand out. The high stance, weird and quirky lights, and aggressive creases of the modern hatchbacks make me wonder about how they will age. The designers of the Polo have done an astounding job on its design and deserved a raise for the design. It just looks so clean and elegant. Or maybe it is just me who thinks it is more gorgeous than it actually is, just because it is my car now.

There is not a lot of stuff going on on the exterior, but that does not mean it is any less beautiful. Simple headlights, simple taillights, simple shapes, simple alloys and etc. It is the perfect example showing that just doing simple things properly can help you achieve perfection. I wouldn't call it perfection, but it is as close as it gets to perfection, for a small family hatch.

[There are a few scratches on the car already. It took us less than 2 weeks to scratch it.]

Interior and feature

This is where things go a bit south for the Polo. Let’s get the few good things about the interior out of the way. The dashboard design is effortless and is sorted out in a very Germanic manner. The instrument cluster is quite straightforward as well, 2 round dials with a puny screen between the dials which gives you all the info about the fuel consumption etc.
The designers must have decided to use as little imagination as possible. I don’t mind it really but I won't be surprised if others would find it dreary. I adore the “no-nonsense” approach Volkswagen has taken while building the car.

Unfortunately, the Germans forgot to use the approach while constructing the backseats. The room on offer is nonsensical. I had more headroom and legroom in the 3rd row of the XUV500. A Wagon R from the same era seems like a Maybach compared to the Polo, in terms of rear space. It's almost like Volkswagen had some kind of a personal grudge against the rear passengers while creating the car. You would expect the Germans to add some features at the rear to compensate for the rear space, but you would be wrong. The electric-powered windows are the only luxuries the rear passengers deserve, is what the workers at Volkswagen thought at the time.

Due to the gigantic transmission hump, no human with working legs would be physically able to sit in the middle at the rear. Thus you can understand why they did not give a center headrest however they couldn’t be bothered to provide a center armrest either.

For a 2013 car, it is well-loaded in terms of features. Climate control, Bluetooth and a few other features which would be considered mandatory on new cars are present. Shockingly, it lacks a reverse parking camera and a touchscreen. I have completely forgotten about the market of cars in 2013, and thus may be comparing the car to my previous 2013 XUV500, which was a few segments above it. I don’t have a memory strong enough to remember whether cars from that era came with the features that I am currently moaning about.

The infotainment system is a simple one. It has Bluetooth, and that is all I need in a car's infotainment, apart from a reverse camera. It might sound stupid, but the current system looks aesthetically pleasing. It just feels and looks right for the car.

The build quality of the German is staggering. The firm thud when closing the door is very assuring to the owner. Smash the door with all your force and you don't feel anything. But if I did that in my Wagon R, I would have the door fall into my arms.

The interior is filled with scratchy plastic, but since the interior is dual-tone, it makes the interior slightly less gloomy. The build quality is quite spectacular, however, the AC vent covers have become loose. Given, this is a 10-year-old car and that is the only quality-related issue, we can ignore this small flaw.

When you think of a 10-yr old hatchback, you would imagine half of the car has crumbled into dust. But the polo is in a pristine condition. It shows no signs of age except that one minor flaw with the AC vents. The build quality is genuinely mesmerizing.

I have got to admit, that simple speedometer looks gorgeous when lit. The car does not need unnecessary accessories, like fake wood and weird creases to make the interior and exterior look beautiful.

In terms of boot space, it is adequate. It is sufficient for a 5-people family on a 2-day trip, even though it can barely fit 5 people.


Team bhp users had warned me about this factor. I was told that the car would not help my maintenance woes. I came across an issue just 2 weeks into ownership. The car used to shudder nervously every time you put it in reverse gear.

The digital screen shows that the car is giving an atrocious mileage of 7-12 kmpl, at first I thought there was an issue with the computer or the display, only to realize the car actually had that low mileage. The rear left electric window switch didn’t work either.

I got the issues checked with my nearest VW service center and they suggested a clutch replacement. Clutch replacements are expected to be expensive, but not 30K expensive. At least that is what the service center quoted us. One of the only reasons we decided to withdraw our booking from a 2014 Polo GT was due to its inevitable and expensive DSG gearbox issues. And if the Highline gave us a bill of 30K plus in its first service, the future didn’t seem very promising.

There was no way on god’s green earth that we were paying 30K already. So we took a second opinion from our local service guy, who quoted us a cost of 9K. In hindsight, I think we made the correct decision. Only the future will tell us how big of a hole this decision will make in our pockets.

Since the initial service, the car has not brought up a single issue.

Driving experience

For an engine which barely produces 80 bhp, it is a pretty lively engine, at least for the first few gears. It doesn’t struggle in the early gears, but as you upshift, you can feel the lack of power. It may not be the highway cruiser, but definitely is more than capable of overcoming most everyday city problems [the only problem it can’t overcome is the low mileage]. The engine does need more refinement, or maybe I just feel the lack of refinement due to the damaged insulation in the engine bay.

Even if you redline 2nd and shift to 3rd, you barely notice any further acceleration. Until you look into the speedo, you wouldn’t realize that the car is actually supposed to be accelerating, even after completely flooring the accelerator pedal. Every time I decide to floor it on the 1st and 2nd and shift up, I am perplexed on why it isn't accelerating further. But I shouldn't complain much about it since you can't seriously expect a 74hp engine to go any faster than this.

In the above picture, you can clearly see the amount of empty space in the engine. The plan in the future is, like every other Polo owner's, to tune it. But for now, we will enjoy the stock engine. However, tuning seems like a terrifying thought, given that the stock engine itself has such atrocious fuel mileage. The car will be returning a mileage lower than of an Aventador. The idea seems even more appalling when you are reminded that the car will mostly be driven in Mumbai traffic. But if you decide to tune a car, you know the consequences. And if one really wants to tune a car, fuel efficiency will be the least of his worries.

The chassis of the German makes it stand out. It may not have a powerful inline 4 to power the vehicle ahead, but you can sense the rallying pedigree of the car when you take it out for a spin. The steering is perfectly weighted for city manoeuvrability. It handles beautifully and is just so fun to drive even if you are going 40 km/h. It is a driver's car and that is why it is treated as an automotive god in India, at least amongst the middle class. If the Indian market had treated it as a regular family car, Polo would have sold fewer cars than the Kizashi.

The gear shifts are as smooth as butter and the sheer satisfaction of shifting gears manually couldn’t be felt if I had gone for the Polo GT. The clutch replacement had certainly gone well.

No complaints about the ride quality, however, the Polo isn’t able to absorb bumps as smoothly as an XUV which is quite understandable. It is quite pointless to compare the XUV to the Polo. XUV is in a different league altogether, but still, I couldn’t help but notice all these minor differences.

The brakes were recently replaced by the previous owner and thus had no issues. Drum brakes at the back and discs at the front did the job just fine for the Polo.

Due to its compact size, manoeuvrability is the least of the Polo’s worries. However, the light throw from the headlights is quite dreadful. No wonder, most Polo owners decide to opt for aftermarket headlights.

It is still quite puzzling to understand how on earth did Volkswagen manage to achieve a fuel efficiency of less than 13 kmpl and yet only produce 74 bhp and 110 Nm of torque. The highway runs give a mileage close to 13, while city drives barely manage 10 kmpl. That 1.2L 3-cylinder is an extremely questionable choice. Neither do you get performance, nor do you get efficiency? But the other factors of the polo certainly make up for that engine.


[Ignore the scratches, it's due to some clumsy driving]

I love this little blue machine. You won’t be able to find one thing it is perfect at, but still, it has a different sort of character. If you treat it as a machine, you will make a mile-long list of flaws. But if you treat it as the loveable little creature that it is, you will instantly forget all these minor faults.

I may have groaned about some of its flaws above, but that is because I'm trying to be as unbiased as possible in this review. If you talk to me, in person, and list the same issues I have mentioned here, I will argue and call these flaws irrelevant until I have won the argument. Not sure about others, but I am quite certain that it is impossible to find a more loveable piece of machinery for 3.4L.

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